Vaccination process progresses successfully in Galapagos with the support of USFQ and GSC

The mass vaccination campaign began in the province of Galapagos at the end of April 2021. The Ministry of Public Health (MSP) and the Governing Council of the Galapagos special regime (CGREG) led this process and received the invaluable collaboration of Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) with the objective of immunizing 100% of the population over 18 years old.

The government wants to protect the population of the islands, reactivate the economy and motivate national and foreign tourists to visit Galapagos safely. In addition, one of the goals is to position the Galapagos as the first fully immunized archipelago in Latin America.

To help speed up the mass vaccination process, USFQ has been supported by the Galapagos Science Center (GSC) which is a joint research facility between USFQ and University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill that is based on San Cristóbal island. Together they were able to immediately mobilize a team made up of 18 doctors, who joined the MSP staff.

At the same time, another multidisciplinary team from USFQ arrived on the islands that were experts in a variety of areas including anthropology, communication, marketing, education and journalism. These 17 researchers came together on the archipelago to launch a communication and education campaign. This campaign focused on clearing up citizens´ doubts regarding the advantages and disadvantages of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and its intention was to motivate the citizens of Galapagos to accept the vaccine.

An important part of the agreement signed between USFQ, the MSP and the CGREG is to carry out a scientific project that will be led by USFQ and will focus on developing information on the sequencing of the complete SARS-CoV-2 genome in adult patients. The GSC has made the use of its state-of-the-art laboratories available when necessary.

Finally, the agreement includes long-term research work on the socio-economic impact of the vaccination campaign on the islands.

USFQ multidisciplinary team collects citizens’ perceptions about the vaccination process

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In 2022, the Galapagos Science Center (GSC) and the broader UNC & USFQ Galapagos Initiative will celebrate its 10th Anniversary. We are proud to announce the World Summit on Island Sustainability scheduled to be held on June 26–30, 2022 at the Galapagos Science Center and the Community Convention Center on San Cristobal Island.

The content of the World Summit will be distributed globally through social media and results documented through papers published in a book written as part of the Galapagos Book Series by Springer Nature and edited by Steve Walsh (UNC) & Carlos Mena (USFQ) as well as Jill Stewart (UNC) and Juan Pablo Muñoz (GSC/USC). The book will be inclusive and accessible by the broader island community including scientists, managers, residents, tourists, and government and non-government organizations.

While the most obvious goal of organizing the World Summit on Island Sustainability is to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the GSC and the UNC-USFQ Galapagos Initiative, other goals will be addressed through special opportunities created as part of our operational planning of the World Summit.

For instance, we seek to elevate and highlight the Galapagos in the island conservation discourse, seeking to interact with other island networks in more obvious and conspicuous ways to benefit the Galapagos Islands, the UNC-USFQ Galapagos Initiative, and the world. We will seize the opportunity to further develop the I2N2 – International Islands Network-of-Networks. Further, we wish to highlight and emphasize multiple visions of a sustainable future for the Galapagos Islands and we cannot do this alone. Therefore, engaging the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Tourism, the Government Council of Galapagos, the Galapagos National Park, and local Galapagos authorities, including government and non-government organizations and local citizen groups, is imperative.

The Galapagos Science Center on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos

Borrowing from Hawaii’s and Guam’s Green Growth Program and the Global Island Partnership, we wish to examine existing global programs that emphasize island sustainability and their incorporation into life, policies, and circumstances in the Galapagos Islands. We will also seek to enhance our connections with the institutional members of our International Galapagos Science Consortium and expand the Consortium through the recruitment of other member institutions. We will also work to benefit islands and their local communities by working with citizen groups as well as important NGOs who seek to improve the natural conditions in the Galapagos and diminish the impact of the human dimension on the future of Galapagos’ ecosystems.

Lastly, we will use the World Summit to benefit UNC & USFQ and our constituencies through a strong and vibrant communication plan about the World Summit, creating corporate relationships as sponsors, identifying funding goals through donors, and benefiting our study abroad program for student engagement in the Galapagos Islands. We plan to develop and issue a Galapagos Sustainability Communique after the World Summit that includes the vision and insights of all its participants for a sustainable Galapagos with applicability to global island settings.

We are eager to hear your perspective and have you join us at the World Summit on Island Sustainability!